By C. Nash 4 that People
The story of N.W.A. was never really supposed to go mainstream and become a phenomena. Gangsta Rap in itself was supposed to fade out as well. Instead, we have been living in the aftermath of waves made by Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube for almost 30 years now. DJ Yella and MC Ren are important characters as well, but the biggest names of NWA have become living legends today. The combination of power, ambition, and commitment created by the “World’s Most Dangerous group” gave the Hip-Hop Culture it’s first West Coast Hall of Famers. The movie reminded the Hip-Hop veterans how it happened and it exposed a new generation to the founding fathers of the west coast music they love so much. This journey through film was just as exciting as the late 80s and early 90s when the actual events took place.
I feel like the director F. Gary Gray did an excellent job of focusing the film on the experiences of the group as a whole without getting too wrapped up in each individual story that could have been told. Insight was shed into the lives of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube, but not to the point where they stood alone. Each piece of the story told had relevance to their group ties. Even the introduction of Suge Knight was important to the plot because he illustrated the hunger and elements of danger that can accompany Compton entrepreneurship in the 90s. The actors did a great job capturing the characters as well, especially O’shea Jackson Jr, the son of Ice Cube. The only Compton rapper I would have liked to see make an appearance was DJ Quik. The film was a history lesson and a reality check all at the same time. The messages provided about the entertainment industry and the community tension related to the police was also thought provoking.
One of the major gang related messages in the film took place during the scenes about the LA Riots. There was a scene when a crip and a blood approached the police with two bandannas tied together in unity. As the two gang members approached the police officers in a rather controlled and calm manner, the camera zoomed in on the community flags to demonstrated the gang members ability to see the bigger picture and allow their behavior to reflect what truly mattered at that time. It’s funny how they say; “The more things change, the more they stay the same” because this film is proof. The conditions of the community, the hunger for success in the music industry, the people controlling the industry for personal gain, and even the way men treat women has not changed much since the early 90s, which is when the majority of the film takes place.
The attitudes of men that were willing to work as hard as necessary to make their dreams come true was my favorite theme to take away from the film. To have a group function for such a short amount of time with multiple leaders and artistically brilliant people is the biggest tragedy of all. To witness the legacies of Dr. and Ice Cube unfold after the group was very historic, but what would have been accomplished if they all managed to work together? What would have happened if the ego of Eric Wright did not block him from witnessing the shady business practices of Jerry Heller? What if Suge Knight never had his own shady business practices and Dr. Dre and Snoop stayed with Death Row? Everything did happen for a reason and it’s good to know that the City of Compton has once again returned to Hip-Hop prominence after all these years. It’s good to see that in the film Compton was not painted as some hell on earth warzone filled with ignorance as well. Overall, the film was amazing because of all the angles and input that came from the people that actually lived through the story. If you haven’t scene it yet, go support one of the best Hip-Hop film’s ever made.